It’s barely been two days since the Mighty No. 9 Kickstarter project hit the internet, and the project has already reached its $900k goal. Headed up by the legendary game designer Keiji Inafune, the project is essentially a new Mega Man game wearing an absurdly thin veil.
Of course, this should come as no surprise for anyone familiar with Inafune’s background. A former Capcom powerhouse, Inafune is the creator of the Mega Man series. Not only was he responsible for the character designs, sprite art, logos, packaging, and manual of the original game, but he went on to father the series for decades afterward. It wasn’t until late 2010 that Inafune announced he was leaving Capcom to “start his life over” after comments that he had been unhappy at his job for some time.
Mighty No. 9 has definitely left Mega Man‘s fans rejoicing. Capcom has taken a lot of heat over the past couple of years due to perceptions that they’ve been giving the Blue Bomber the shaft and disregarding their fans. While every company has to deal with that every now and again, Capcom’s been facing the fire for quite a while now. In my opinion, the cancellation of Mega Man Legends 3 was the final straw.
Mega Man Legends 3 appeared to be Capcom’s outreach to the Mega Man fanbase, as it invited the fans to participate directly in the development process. Anyone who wanted a shot could submit character and robot designs during special events, and a handful of fans were even chosen to have their work featured directly in the game. Everything seemed to be going well as the prototype was prepared for release — that is, until Capcom abruptly cancelled the project on July 18, 2011, and then later blamed the fans themselves on Twitter. To pour a little more salt on the wound, the MML3 Devroom website was never taken offline, and is in fact still up and running to this day.
Perhaps that’s part of the reason why Mighty No. 9 is such a breath of fresh air to the Mega Man community, despite the fact that it’s not actually part of the mother series. As detailed in the Kickstarter page, backers are welcome to participate in the development process depending on how much they’re able to donate. Even a simple $5 donation can get one’s name into the game’s credits, whereas a more hefty $500 grants the opportunity to help design a game challenge. Even higher donation levels allow for more intense interaction with the game team, including voice acting, appearing as a character (presumably NPC), and collaborating on an enemy design.
It’s still unseen what Capcom will say or think about this project; for all we know, they could try to slap a cease-and-desist on the game because it too closely resembles their IP. It doesn’t necessarily seem unlikely, especially after Capcom’s attempted to redeem themselves with the fans by finally allowing Mega Man to participate in the next Super Smash Bros game. However, I think interfering with Mighty No. 9 would be a poor move on their part, because they already have a reputation for smacking down Mega Man fans, and not just because of MML3. (Dare I bring up Mega Man Universe or Rock’s exclusion from Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3?) If Capcom knocks down this project, they’ll probably put the final nail in their own coffin and drive away the Mega Man fanbase for good.
Then again, Capcom’s done even less intelligent things before, so who knows what they might do.